By Mark Malone
Special to ESPN.com
Since Bill Callahan is a former assistant of Jon Gruden's, I don't know that he'll be in a position to out-coach Gruden. But Gruden certainly has a tremendous amount of respect for Callahan's knowledge of the game and his ability to coach and teach.
But Callahan has anonymity in his favor, which will certainly help him out this week. Gruden may know him, but you can't underestimate what Callahan has done with the Raiders -- particularly on offense. His philosophy differs from Gruden's. Callahan is much more aggressive. He's got a killer instinct. He wants to throw the ball on every down and go after people and take shots at players who may be injured. On the surface, you would expect that approach from Gruden, but not necessarily from Callahan, whose quiet, meek appearance is misleading.
Callahan's anonymity will help to a certain extent because he doesn't have to endure the added pressure of answering all the questions and dealing with the what's going on around the game. He can focus on the task at hand.
There's no clear advantage in terms of X's and O's. From a strategical standpoint, Gruden may have an easier time adjusting and adapting his game play and players depending on what's happening on the field. But you can't overlook Callahan's accomplishments this season and what a great job he's done with the Raiders. He's been equally, if not more, impressive than Gruden because Callahan came in with everyone asking, "who is this guy?"
Well, we know him now. So be careful, Callahan may surprise.
By Mark Schlereth
Special to ESPN.com
The players on both of these teams would stand in front of traffic for their head coach -- they believe in them that much. But Jon Gruden has a tremendous advantage in Sunday's matchup. Whether he can out-coach Callahan remains to be seen, but because he spent four years with the Raiders, he has intimate knowledge of each players' strengths and weaknesses. He can pick through the roster and know what to stay away from, as well as how to exploit certain players. He knows what they struggled with that maybe no one has exploited yet. There may be a certain technique that Gruden knows they had problems with in practice, or a certain defense or blitz that they had a difficult time with.
In my last three years with the Denver Broncos, my knees were so bad that I never pulled one time -- not one. Occasionally, I would pull inside in some nickel tosses, but I would never pull across because my coaches felt that, athletically, if someone made a drastic move on me, I couldn't get him and the play would get blown up anyway. Certainly you could see that in film, but had I played for Gruden, he would have had an intimate knowledge of my weakness and he would have exploited that.
Gruden went in and embraced the Buccaneers. He encouraged them and set a fire underneath them to achieve. I'm sure we'll see more of that spark on Sunday.